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Rotorua is New Zealand’s thermal country, a wonderland of hot springs, geysers, exploding mud pools, natural vents and sulphur pools. Visitors have been gathering here to see, and experience, these wonders for more than a hundred years, but these days many folk also stop to enjoy the surrounding scenery, and do a bit of fishing, boating or rafting on the area’s numerous lakes too. Many of the best places to stay in Rotorua are around Lake Taupo, or one of the other lakes, offering peaceful views and stunning volcanic mountain scenery.
A large number of Rotorua’s attractions are based around the geothermal landscape. There’s the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, with its regularly erupting geyser and wonderfully bubbly Champagne Pool, Te Puia, which has bubbling mud pools and more geysers, and Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, which has more of the same, and The Buried Village, which is the excavated ruins of a village engulfed in ash by the Mt Tarawera eruption in 1886. There are also a number of natural springs and pools and some spectacular walking trails.
If you’re looking for adventure then you won’t be disappointed either, Rotorua is well set up for adrenalin lovers, with a land-luge sled, heli-tours, white-water rafting and zorbing.
But if your budget doesn’t run to these ‘frills and thrills’ don’t despair, there are plenty of free parks and hiking routes, as flat or mountainous as you fancy. And whatever you’re doing the landscape is totally unique.
There’s a high percentage of Māori people living in Rotorua, so this is a great place to experience some of the local customs, such as attending a feast, or seeing a traditional performance.
It might not seem the obvious way to explore the geothermal region, but this is actually a cyclists paradise. There are some incredible mountain biking trials, and some challenging road climbs.
It does smell a bit sulphur-y though…
Our pick of the best places to stay in Rotorua are mainly lake side properties and all are great bases for exploring the area, without being in the centre of town.
For stunning views
- Solitaire Lodge is a luxurious, nine room lodge on a private peninsula on the shores of Lake Tarawera. As well as stunning views, the lodge also has thermal baths. Plus you can swim and fish right in the lake.
- 15minutes drive from Rotorua is the lovely spot occupied by the Hamurana Lodge, overlooking the lake. The ten rooms and suites are large with natural stone and wood finishes and there’s an outdoor pool and 15 acres of landscaped gardens.
For great value
- The Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort is a 30 room luxury hotel and spa with bright, modern decor and comfortable rooms. There’s also a great local menu, a tranquil setting, and it’s all great value, starting from a little over £100 per night.
For secluded luxury
- The Lake Okareka Lodge by lebua offers the ultimate in secluded luxury. It’s on the tip of a private peninsula and has just three huge suites. Each suite has a private veranda, modern decor and top facilities. There also a pool and outdoor spa baths and a gym and a library.
Still undecided? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Rotorua, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Alternatively you can check out all our North Island recomnendations.
Best Hotels in Rotorua
Five star ultimate luxury lodge in Rotorua on tip of secluded peninsula. Three exclusive suites with private verandas, sleek modern furniture and top amenities. With a swimming pool, outdoor spa baths, a gym and library with a baby grand piano.SuitesViews - Panoramic views of lake and mountain vistasOutstanding location - On tip of secluded penisulaOn the beach - Private beach
Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort 30 rooms from $124Rotorua (Holdens Bay)
Set on the shores of Lake Rotorua, this luxury hotel and spa offers spacious and comfortable rooms with contemporary decor and bright colours. Great local menu specialising in the use of indigenous New Zealand herbs and spices. With an outdoor pool.Swimming Pool - Outdoor poolHideaway - Tranquil and intimate.Local markets - Good for local colour.Great walks - Good for walkers.
Hamurana Lodge 10 rooms from $327Rotorua
Large suites with striking New Zealand artwork, stylish rugs and natural stone and wood finishes. Fantastic location in hills of Rotorua with views to Lake Rotorua. Great outdoor swimming pool and 15 acres of landscaped gardens.Views - Views of Lake Rotorua and Mokoia IslandSights nearby - Rotorua 15 minute drive awayRestrictions on children - Must be 12 or overSwimming Pool - Outdoor
Solitaire Lodge 9 rooms from $1010Rotorua (Lake Tarawera)
Luxurious lodge on private peninsula on the shores of Lake Tarawera with stunning views to White Island, New Zealand's only active marine volcano. Suites are large and neutral in colour, with chic furniture and spa-like baths. Activities include outdoor thermal baths, fishing and lake swimming.Views - Of lake, lagoon, or volcanic summit of Mount TaraweraOutstanding location - On private peninsula on the shores of Lake TaraweraBack to NatureHideaway - Tranquil and intimate.